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2 former law enforcement officers plead guilty to federal extortion charges in Knox County

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KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Two former law enforcement officers for the University of Tennessee and the Tennessee Valley Authority have pleaded guilty to federal extortion charges.

The charges stem from an undercover gambling sting set up by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2009.

Robert E. Cummings, the former UT officer, and Benito D. Lopez, formerly of the TVA, are scheduled to be sentenced in March and could face a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Cummings and Lopez were charged with attempting to commit extortion "under color of official right," meaning they took payment in exchange for taking, withholding or influencing official action.

Three other current or former officers indicted earlier this month by a federal grand jury have pleaded not guilty.

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